Press release

Energy Watch Group calls on the IEA to release realistic scenarios

World Energy Outlook underestimates once again the potential of renewable energy sources, holding back their global expansion.

November 12, 2015, Berlin – The international network of scientists and parliamentarians Energy Watch Group (EWG) calls on the International Energy Agency (IEA) to finally release realistic energy projections. The World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2015 once again underestimates sharply the potential of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy and emphasizes the conventional energy sources, the EWG assessment shows. Furthermore, the decline in the expansion of wind and solar energy, projected by the WEO2015, is not correct.

The latest EWG study has proven that the IEA has been continuously publishing misleading projections on solar PV and wind energy in the past 10 years. The WEO has significant impact both on the political and economic decisions of world governments regarding energy.

“The WEO 2015 shows one cannot take the IEA seriously as a credible energy analyst any longer,” President of the Energy Watch Group and former Member of the German Parliament Hans-Josef Fell said. “Despite its own warnings of limited investments in the oil business, the IEA predicts a further increase in the oil production until 2030. Meanwhile, the actually occurring rapid development of renewable energy is downplayed. This way the IEA increasingly turns into a cause of the global warming.”

Despite the exponential growth of solar PV and wind power in the last decades, the IEA keeps assuming a linear growth for these technologies, meaning no growth of the annual installations. However, the annual market growth of wind energy has been just under 10% since 2000, and solar PV significantly higher. The market analyses by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and IHS forecast a 10% or more annual market growth of solar PV in the coming years.

In its baseline ‘New Policy Scenario’, the IEA expects wind and solar PV markets to shrink: the annual added capacity for the period 2015 to 2040 is respectively 20% and 40% lower than the current levels. In its most optimistic ‘450 Scenario’, the IEA assumes no (0 %) annual market growth for both technologies. In addition, the investment costs for solar PV seem to be outdated, as the WEO expects for the years 2025 – 2040 on average higher investment costs than the already achieved level of 2015, with further declines in costs.

“Although the IEA spreads positive messages in its WEO presentations, the actual figures show serious errors and inadequately low forecasts for sustainable energy technologies, which are the least expensive form of energy supply in a growing number of regions in the world”, Christian Breyer, Professor for Solar Economy at the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland and lead author of the recent EWG study, said. “We need urgent help of journalists and civil society to find out the real reasons for these continuous incorrect IEA projections for solar PV and wind energy.”

The growth of nuclear energy projected by the WEO 2015 is doubtful. In recent years, there was no significant expansion and the exploding costs of recent nuclear projects, including in Finland and France, show that the expansion of nuclear power, projected by the WEO, will not be financially viable.

The WEO projections for the oil sector are also too optimistic as in the past. A further increase in oil consumption to over 103.5 mb/d by 2040 is unrealistic, given the high debts of oil companies, the lack of investments and the already decreasing conventional oil production. The low interest rates since 2009 obviously cannot set the expected growth impulses.

“These projections are risky and irresponsible. We are now standing at a crossroads: either high oil prices disrupt the economy, or lower prices disrupt oil companies. It is a toss-up whether the transition to a low-carbon energy supply will go smoothly or will cause major upheavals”, Werner Zittel, senior energy expert at Ludwig Bölkow Systemtechnik said. “Even more so it must be the duty of the IEA to provide realistic signposts rather than limit itself to the business-as-usual thinking.”

World Energy Outlook unterschätzt wieder einmal das Potential von erneuerbaren Energien und bremst damit ihren weltweiten Ausbau.

11. November, 2015, Berlin – Das internationale Netzwerk von Wissenschaftlern und Parlamentariern Energy Watch Group (EWG) fordert von der Internationalen Energieagentur (IEA), endlich realistische Energieprognosen zu veröffentlichen. Die Bewertung der EWG zeigt, der diesjährige World Energy Outlook (WEO) unterschätzt weiterhin das Potential von Solar- und Windkraft massiv und hebt die konventionellen Energien hervor. Der vom WEO prognostizierte Rückgang des Ausbaus von Wind-und Solarenergien ist nicht korrekt.

Mit der jüngsten EWG-Studie wurde nachgewiesen, dass die IEA in den letzten 10 Jahren kontinuierlich irreführende Prognosen zu Photovoltaik und Windkraft veröffentlicht hat. Der WEO Bericht hat großen Einfluss auf politische wie ökonomische Entscheidungen, die Regierungen weltweit in Bezug auf Energiepolitik treffen.

„Mit dem WEO 2015 kann die IEA nicht mehr als glaubwürdiger Energieanalyst ernst genommen werden“, so der Präsident der Energy Watch Group und frühere Bundestagsabgeordnete Hans-Josef Fell. „Trotz eigener Warnungen vor viel zu geringen Investitionen in das Ölgeschäft prognostiziert die IEA eine weiter steigende Ölförderung sogar bis 2030. Die tatsächlich stattfindende stürmische Entwicklung der Erneuerbaren Energien wird hingegen klein geredet. Damit entpuppt sich die IEA immer mehr zum Verursacher der selbst beklagten zunehmenden Erderwärmung.“

Trotz des exponentiellen Wachstums von Photovoltaik und Windkraft in den letzten Jahrzehnten geht die IEA weiterhin von einer linearen Wachstumskurve dieser Technologien aus, d.h. kein Wachstum der jährlichen Installationen. Das jährliche Marktwachstum bei Windkraft lag aber bei knapp 10% seit dem Jahr 2000, bei Photovoltaik deutlich darüber und es kann laut den Marktanalysen von Bloomberg New Energy Finance und IHS für Photovoltaik von einem jährlichen Marktwachstum von 10% oder mehr in den kommenden Jahren ausgegangen werden.

In ihrem Referenzszenario („New Policy Scenario“) erwartet die IEA eine Marktschrumpfung für Wind und Photovoltaik: der jährlicher Zubau im Zeitraum 2015 – 2040 liegt jeweils 20% und 40% niedriger als der aktuelle jährliche Markt von Windkraft und Photovoltaik. In ihrem optimistischsten Szenario („450 Scenario“) geht die IEA von keinem (0%) jährlichen Marktwachstum für die beiden Technologien aus. Darüber hinaus scheinen die angenommenen Investitionskosten für Photovoltaik veraltet zu sein, da für die Jahre 2025 – 2040 im Mittel höhere Investitionskosten angenommen werden als das schon erreichte Niveau des Jahres 2015 zeigte, bei weiter fallenden Kosten.

“Obwohl die IEA positive Botschaften nach außen in ihrer WEO Kommunikation verbreitet, stecken hinter den tatsächlichen Zahlen gravierende Fehler und unangemessen niedrige Prognosen für besonders umweltfreundliche Energietechnologien, welche an immer mehr Orten auf der Welt die kostengünstigste Form der Stromgewinnung darstellen“, so Christian Breyer, Professor für Solarökonomie an der Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finnland. Breyer ist Hauptautor der letzten EWG-Studie. „Journalisten und Zivilgesellschaft sind mehr gefragt denn je, die wahren Gründe für diese kontinuierlich falschen Prognosen der IEA für Photovoltaik und Windkraft herauszufinden.“

Das im WEO 2015 beschriebene Wachstum der Atomenergie ist zweifelhaft. In den letzten Jahren gab es keine nennenswerte Ausbaudynamik und die davon explodierten Kosten der jüngeren Neubauprojekte u.a. in Finnland und Frankreich zeigen, dass der vom WEO angepeilte Ausbau der Atomenergie nicht finanzierbar sein wird.

Auch im Ölsektor sind die WEO Prognosen wie in der Vergangenheit zu optimistisch. Ein weiter steigender Ölverbrauch auf 103.5 Mb/Tag bis 2040 ist unrealistisch angesichts der hohen Schulden der Ölkonzerne, der fehlenden Investitionen und der bereits zurückgehenden konventionellen Ölförderung. Offensichtlich können die seit 2009 niedrigen Zinsen nicht die erhofften Wachstumsimpulse setzen.

„Das sind abenteuerliche und unverantwortliche Voraussagen. Jetzt stehen wir am Scheideweg: entweder wird ein hoher Ölpreis die Wirtschaft zerreißen, oder ein niedriger die Ölkonzerne. Und es ist absolut offen, ob der Übergang in eine kohlenstoffarme Energieversorgung verträglich oder mit großen Verwerfungen vor sich gehen wird“, so Werner Zittel, Energieexperte bei Ludwig Bölkow Systemtechnik. „Gerade deshalb muss es die Pflicht der IEA sein, einen brauchbaren Wegweiser zu liefern anstatt weiterhin im Business-as-usual Denken zu verharren“.

New EWG study: International Energy Agency holds back global energy transition

Energy Watch Group and Lappeenranta University of Technology analysis shows that the IEA has consistently undermined potential of solar and wind energy in the last decade.

September 22, 2015, Berlin – Energy Watch Group makes the International Energy Agency responsible for consistently underestimating the potential of renewable energy and promoting conventional energy sources.

The new study by Energy Watch Group and Lappeenranta University of Technology, released today, comes to the conclusion that the International Energy Agency (IEA) annual reports World Energy Outlook (WEO) between 1994 and 2014 have been publishing misleading projections on solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy. The WEO has significant impact on both political and economic decisions of world governments regarding energy.

“The IEA has been holding back the global energy transition for years. The false WEO predictions lead to high investments in fossil and nuclear sector, hinder global development of renewable energy and undermine the global fight against climate change”, President of Energy Watch Group and former Member of the German Parliament Hans-Josef Fell said.

Although solar PV and wind have grown exponentially for the last decades and are expected to continue growing in the decades to come, the IEA keeps assuming linear growth for these technologies, meaning no growth of the annual installations. According to WEO projections, by 2030 renewable energy is expected to provide only 14% of global electricity supply, whereas assuming the average growth rates of the last 20 years the projection would be close to 60%.

“Despite the rapidly growing markets for solar PV and wind energy, the WEO dramatically undervalues their potential, which leads to fatal projections”, the study lead author and professor of Solar Economy at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland Christian Breyer said. “From a scientific point of view, these structural errors are incomprehensible, from a social perspective they are irresponsible.”

The WEO reports are being approved by OECD governments, some of which have high stakes in conventional industry. Therefore, the Energy Watch Group calls the scientific community and civil society to examine closer political and business dependencies within IEA.

The key findings of the study include:

  • The WEO 2010 projections for solar PV capacity for the year 2024 (180 GW) have been achieved in January 2015 and exceeded threefold the WEO projections for 2015.
  • Real wind capacity in 2010 exceeded 260% and 104% the WEO 2002 and 2004 projections respectively for this year. WEO projections for wind energy from 2002 for 2030 had been achieved 20 years earlier, in 2010.
  • Independent analysts have been more correct in their projections of the successful expansion of renewable energy than the WEO. Only forecasts of the conventional energy industry, including BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil, were similarly low as IEA projections.
  • WEO projections overestimate the potential of coal industry in the last years and do not reflect the latest trend of divestment of finance from the coal industry in the last years as well as China’s starting coal exit and increasing investment in renewables.
  • WEO from 2000 to 2006 highly overestimated oil-based electricity.
  • Despite a decline of nuclear energy in the last 10 years, WEO still projects an annual expansion of about 10 GW nuclear in the next decade. Given a few commissioned and financed nuclear projects and the 100-200% overruns over the planning costs in Europe and delays, WEO projections appear highly overestimated.

The full study (in English) is available here.

Press release in German is available here.

On October 2, 2015 the International Energy Agency (IEA) launched the Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR) 2015 on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Istanbul.

The report demonstrates a certain effort by the IEA to recognize the relevance of renewable energies for power capacity over the medium term. It also points out that enhanced energy policies will give greater certainty about the long-term revenue streams of renewable projects and can foster their deployment.

The IEA figures reflect reality to a certain extend: in the OECD, renewables account for nearly all net additions to power capacity, compared to fossil fuels and nuclear. In the non-OECD, fossil fuels remain significant but there is large upside potential for renewables.

Yet, IEA projections of renewables expansion and costs remain largely conservative (Figure 34 and 65). Just like the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, this report makes the same error of assuming a linear growth for renewable energy despite the proved exponential growth track in the last decade. Read more on that in the last Energy Watch Group study.

The estimated 429.5 GW global solar PV capacity till 2020 are well below the estimates of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) 589 GW, SolarPower Europe (SPE) 606 GW and Greenpeace 732 GW. The WEO 2014 projection on global solar capacity was only 364 GW. (see below 1)

Surprisingly, the report does not show the growth of the PV market in China and no significant market growth in India although both countries adopted 100 GW PV programs till 2020 and 2022 (See Figure 68). This year alone, China has raised its solar power installation target for 2015 by 40 percent.

IEA projects only 45 – 60 GW of global annual solar PV additions in 2020, whereas BNEF estimates 87 GW and SPE about 66 GW. (see below 2)  The same concerns the estimates of global cumulative renewable capacity: IEA projects around 700 GW whereas BNEF estimates 1004 GW and Greenpeace 1249 GW.

SUMMARY: The IEA Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR) 2015 goes in the right direction, but the wrong assumption of linear growth leads and conservative estimates result in undermining the global renewables energy market growth.


  1. The market outlook of SPE ends in 2019, therefore a market volume for the year 2020 according to the previous years had been added to get comparable installed capacities for the year 2020.
  2. The market outlook of SPE ends in 2019, therefore a market volume for the year 2020 according to the previous years had been added to get comparable installed capacities for the year 2020.

In a commentary for the German journal Gebäude Energieberater, the EWG President Hans-Josef Fell provides a political outlook for the oil industry based on the EWG study on Fracking published earlier this year.

He concludes that the oil industry faces a dead-end situation: a low oil price will arrest fossil fuel investment, while a high oil price will accelerate the transition towards renewable energy. In either case, the economic pressure on oil companies increases.

Read the full article (in German) here.

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The End of the Fracking Business

A new Energy Watch Group study on the consequences of and current developments in fracking

Berlin, 19 March 2015: A new Energy Watch Group (EWG) study that examines the consequences of fracking in the United States warns strongly against the expansion of shale gas extraction in Germany and Europe. The costs and environmental damage produced by fracking are out of all proportion to the amount of raw materials extracted.

End of the Fracking Boom

Fracking entails enormous environmental destruction, a high consumption of groundwater and large-scale sand mining. What’s more, the indebtedness of companies in the fracking industry is steadily increasing. The drop in petroleum prices since autumn 2014 –a phenomenon related to the financial depreciation of oil and gas reserves – has caused financial problems for many companies. The shale gas industry is not doing well. Mass layoffs and bankruptcies reveal the true story behind the rosy picture of a reliable and long-standing boom in the fossil economy.

Thus far, fracking on a commercially relevant scale has occurred primarily in the United States. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush loosened the environmental regulations for the fracking of crude oil and natural gas. As a result, US gas production has been rising steeply ever since. This has enticed many to believe the fallacy of a supposedly decades-long oil and gas fracking hype.

Expansion in Europe

The study provides an overview of the consequences of a possible expansion of shale gas extraction in Germany, based on the American experience. The apparent success overseas cannot be transferred 1:1 to Europe, where other conditions prevail. No promising shale gas deposits are available here, nor are the infrastructural requirements comparable. In the EU, fracking has very low potential. Nonetheless, politicians – particularly the new EU Commissioner for Energy, Maroš Šefčovič – want to proceed with gas extraction through fracking at all costs. “The US experience shows that short-term success was bought at the price of extensive collateral damage. Last year, New York enacted a ban on fracking. And in Germany, fracking will not be able to play nearly the role it’s played in the US. It’s pure illusion to believe one could repeat the US successes and at the same time minimize the associated environmental effects. France has already imposed a fracking ban, and several other EU countries have instituted a moratorium. Why should Germany take the risks when the energy and climate policy debate requires other measures anyway?” asks Dr. Werner Zittel, the study’s author and head of the Ludwig Bölkow Foundation.

Since December 2014, the proposal for a controversial fracking law has been under discussion. This month, the German Bundestag will begin deliberations on the fracking regulations. This special situation, which calls for a socially responsible decision compatible with climate policy, inspired the Energy Watch Group to prepare a provisional report. “It is completely incomprehensible that a government policy for fracking still dominates from Brussels to London to Berlin, at the expense of environmental protection and against the will of the affected population, while at the same time putting continued pressure on the expansion of renewable energies.”, says Hans-Josef Fell, President of the Energy Watch Group.

The EWG study (in German) can be accessed here.
The English summary of the study can be accessed here.
Here you can read the EWG press release in German.

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The EWG Chairman Dr. Werner Zittel outlines the causes and effects of the rapid fall in oil prices in an interview to the Austrian newspaper Sonnenzeitung. Read the full interview (in German) here.

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Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi. Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim.

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